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About The Trojan War

The Trojan War is one of history's most famous conflicts, a ten-year-long war waged over the beautiful Helen. For more than two thousand years this story has been a source of artistic inspiration. But is it true?

In The Trojan War historian and classicist Barry Strauss explores the myth and the reality behind the war, from Homer's accounts in The Iliad and The Odyssey to Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of ancient Troy in the late nineteenth century to more recent excavations that have yielded intriguing clues to the story behind the fabled city. The Trojans, it turns out, were not ethnic Greeks but an Anatolian people closely allied with the Hittite Empire to the east. At the time of the Trojan War, the Greeks were great seafarers while Troy was a more settled civilization. And while the cause of the war may well have been the kidnapping of a queen—and, more significantly, the seizure of her royal dowry—the underlying cause was a conflict between the Trojans and the Greeks for control of the eastern Aegean Sea.

Through vivid reconstructions of the battles and insightful depictions of its famous characters, The Trojan War reveals the history behind Homer's great epic, without losing the poetry and grandeur of the epic myth.

What Others are Saying

Consumed in one of those burning-the-midnight-oil situations. I really enjoyed it.
Michael Wood, author of In Search of the Trojan War
Barry Strauss is everything you want in a great historian….This is a passionate book that deals with passions in their rawest form. Strauss is brave enough to go back to the heart of the Trojan War-a story of honor and greed; of men and women….The Trojan War gives Homer the respect the bard is due: as the guardian as one of the greatest moments in world history, rather than as a teller of tall tales.
Bettany Hughes, author of Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore
Barry Strauss brings fresh insight, breadth, and surprising humor to one of history’s iconic conflicts. The Trojan War is the last word; it is so good, so concise and perfect, it may well preempt future historians from ever trying to improve on it.
David L. Robbins, author of The Assassins Gallery
Barry Strauss boldly treats the Trojan War not as mythology or poetry but as history. To the epics of Homer and other Greek sources he adds a broad knowledge of the Bronze Age, of its physical remains and of written evidence from the Hittite and Egyptian archives. The result is an exciting tale written in a lively style that brings Homer’s heroes and the world in which they lived to vibrant and colorful life.
Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History, Yale University
Barry Strauss reminds us that little is new in warfare — names and dates change, but the soul of combat remains the same across millennia. By capturing the sublime tranquility and thunderous violence of the ancient world, he makes Homer feel fresh and more relevant than ever. The Trojan War is a lyrical, entrancing book, ringing with arms, and also with truth.
Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
This is as good an account as we are likely to get of one of the most famous wars in history. A must-read for anyone interested in war, history, or ancient times.
Max Boot, senior fellow in national security studies, The Council on Foreign Relations; author of War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today
In his last book, on the battle of Salamis, Barry Strauss took on Herodotus and emerged with flying colors, here he takes on the granddaddy of them all, the greatest war-poet of the Western tradition, Homer — and again emerges triumphant. This new Trojan War too is a military epic of the first order, weaving together fact and fiction in a beguiling tapestry of blood, guts, gore — and terrible feminine beauty.
Paul Cartledge, professor of Greek History, Cambridge University, and author of Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World
The second best book about the Trojan War I have ever read.
Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire : An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae and The Afghan Campaign
Barry Strauss’ tight, riveting The Trojan War is a learned and vastly entertaining account of what was all too likely a very real war indeed. Again, he is unsurpassed in explaining the ghastliness of close quarter combat. His interpretation is also timely: in Odysseus–‘the man of wiles’–and the tale of the Horse, Strauss pulls the reader right into the fountainhead of special operations.
Derek Leebaert, author of To Dare and To Conquer: Special Operations and the Destiny of Nations, from Achilles to Al-Quaeda